Empower Women As Nourishers Of Human Race

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New Delhi, Mar 12 (UNI) 'Heart-rending' instances of a pre-teen daughter being sold away to a sexagenarian for a few rupees or a newborn being drowned ''because the child again is a girl'' were cited to drive home the need to empower women.

''Today we are talking about empowerment,'' Minister of State for Human Resource Development D Purandareswari remarked at a Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan function last evening to celebrate International Women's Day.

The HRD Minister recalled how Indian women were given equal rights with men with the stroke of the pen when India gained independence-- something that took other countries ''a long time.'' Ms Purandareswari also recited some of India's ancient verses in which women were held in the highest esteem and with reverence in recognition of their importance.

The Indian Constitution says that women need to be given equal opportunities as men in all social, economic and political areas.

But Ms Purandareswari noted how over the ages women came to be confined to home-- specifically the kitchen-- while the meaning of all good pronouncements ''has been forgotten.'' She said women were today subjected to ''so much of inhuman treatment.'' ''It's heart rending,'' she remarked citing newspaper accounts of an eleven-year-old girl being sold away by hard-up parents to a sixty or seventy year old man or a mother forced to drown her newborn just because it is a girl or brides burnt for bringing a gram of gold less in dowry.

A leading education provider under the HRD Ministry, KVS marked the day in keeping with its effort to encourage girls' enrollment as recounted by Commissioner Ranglal Jamuda.

She visited a display of students' paintings on the Day many of which depicted women in the traditional motherly or housewife roles while several showed women assuming a range of new roles-- from cops to astronauts.

One painting showed a girl in a classroom dreaming to become '' new prime minister,'' of india ( Pooja), ''while another showed a woman with eight arms and hands-- handling everything from a pail and a mop to a cell and a laptop.

KVS debators argued for and against the topic: Gender Based Reservation Will Retard The Progress Of The Country. One winner trotted out arguments for reservation to right the wrongs.

She cited the manner in which Kiran Bedi was overlooked for the top cop job, suggesting that the decision reflected a gender bias.

Ms Purandeswari gave away prizes to winners of various contests.

Speakers included guest of honour Shiv Khera.

Another speaker, Bhupinder Singh, stressed the need for women to be recognised for the most crucial role they have played over the ages as nourishers of the human race and said it would be tragic to miss that point.

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